Albion Cobb Civil War Watch

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jeff Hess, Aug 23, 2018.

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  1. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Moderator
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    We all love originality. And we all love to restore things! I bought this watch recently from an online auction. And of course I want to maximize its collectability and value!. The questions are many! Did this historical Civil War Era watch really come with this Swiss fake movement? It would seem so! That's the first question. The next question is it best to leave it in as found condition? Or is it better to put an 1857 model Waltham in it? The case serial number is one off of the case number. In other words the case number is 5735 and the movement number is 5736. I'm leaning towards leaving it as-is! Which is a shame. Because when I sell it I'm sure someone is just going to switch it right!?? LOL

    20180823_123123.jpg 20180823_123135.jpg 20180823_123145.jpg
     
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  2. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    I would leave it as it is
    The historical value may be far greater than it cash value
    It would be interesting to find the story behind the presentation
     
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  3. LloydB

    LloydB Registered User

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    I agree, entirely.
     
  4. Bryan Eyring

    Bryan Eyring Registered User
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    Appears to be a Swiss case too - you may find that a 57 does not even properly fit in it.

    At any rate a very interesting piece and glad you documented it in its original state here on the board.
     
  5. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Hi Jeff, you know where to send it. Regards Ray
     
  6. Dave Coatsworth

    Dave Coatsworth Forums Administrator
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    #6 Dave Coatsworth, Aug 23, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
    Please leave it as is...

    "I am happy to report that, notwithstanding the obstructions met with in procuring supplies from the commissary department, owing to the supplies in ambulances and supply wagons, and the energetic and faithful labor of Assistant Surgeon Albion Cobb, 4th Maine, in charge of the cooking department, the wounded of the division suffered but slight inconvenience from want of food."

    Office of Medical History - Gettysburg

    And more...

    Dr. Albion Cobb | Maine at War

    Surgeon Albion Cobb, 4th Maine Volunteers, diary, 1996

    AlbionCobbBio.jpg
     
  7. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    It is curious that the dial number does not match the movement number.
     
  8. RON in PA

    RON in PA Registered User
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    Leave it be. IT's a part of Civil War history. Clint Geller needs to see it.
     
  9. Clint Geller

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    Clint Geller just saw it - and likes it very much as is. Please leave it be, Jeff.
     
  10. johnnypocket

    johnnypocket Registered User
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    Hope to see it next summer when the CW watches are going to be on display at the museum. Can't wait !!!
     
  11. Clint Geller

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    It would be an interesting addition to the exhibit, if it should become available for that purpose. Numerous Waltham and Robbins & Appleton ads of the period warn and inveigh against Swiss fakes just like that one, so it would be cool to show a copy of the ad right next to the watch.
     
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  12. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jeff,

    My policy for my collection is that unless I have clear reason to believe that a modification is unmistakably wrong or fraudulent, I leave it alone.

    RE my Ball Hamilton in a loaner case. Hands are not Ball RR and the case back does not match the mid section. But it may well be that this is a result of Loaner service.

    I also have an early 992 that has an SS RN dial on it. I have no reason to believe that anyone improving a watch for resale would put that dial on it. Hamilton would supply SS dials as requested. So it stays.

    But then, I like RR watches where the case shows the watch was worn daily (up to a point). I certainly do not want to wear a watch that has a factory new case. For these two reasons, I like the nickel cases for RR watches. It is what railroaders used plus they look good after 100 years.

    For me to change these watches to the "ideal" would be me improving the watch.

    The most provocative research, whether in science or history, tends to result from discrepancies with "known fact".

    I also knew a watch faker you may know. He could make things that passed at international auctions as 16th cent. pieces. The way he did it: he made it look like the book.

    I hope someone here buys that watch because they will protect it as long as they can.
     
  13. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    After reading Dave Coatsworth's post I think that watch's place in you country's history makes it far too precious to split
     
  14. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    I'm still looking for my Howard knock off. Thanks for sharing.

    Keith R...
     
  15. John Cote

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    Jeff,

    I think the fact that you posted it here means the cat is out of the bag. This watch is now a documented piece of history. Ain't the internet wonderful?

    Anyway, I agree with the rest about keeping it like this. I don't really know why all of these watches are generically called "Swiss fakes." This watch certainly resembles an American watch but calling it a fake seems harsh. It's a watch...a Swiss watch sold in the US. How about a private label? ;)
     
  16. Tom McIntyre

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    I have a pretty nice watch with Liverpool origins that looks almost identical to the 1857 model except it is rather higher quality than Waltham ever produced in the 1857. I have also seen another with the adjacent serial number. Both are marked

    Jeff's watch is a great piece, but I suspect it is a little lower quality than the one it pretends to be (which was Waltham's lowest grade to start with.)

    Watches carried by the Confederate Army (or the rebels, if you prefer) were predominantly Swiss with some English and some of those may have been finished to look like Yankee production, but that was not likely a great selling point.
     
  17. Dave Coatsworth

    Dave Coatsworth Forums Administrator
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    Does anyone have any information (or advertisements) on what a Swiss fake would have cost in 1864?
     
  18. hc3

    hc3 Registered User

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    I know Mr. Hess well enough to know that he's fooling with us and would no more switch these than he would hit himself with a hammer.

    He respects originality in historical pieces.

    He knows that historically, a watch purchased during the war by a group pf volunteer soldiers would be just as likely, if not more likely, to be a Swiss watch from the sutler than an American one from a jeweler.

    And he knows that the economic truth is that the movement is irrelevant to the value. Having a $300 Bartlett in there instead of a $50 Swiss fake would not change the demand or increase the potential buyer pool one bit.

    You all took him seriously, because there are people who would ask that question seriously. But Jeff Hess is not among them.
     
  19. hc3

    hc3 Registered User

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    " This watch certainly resembles an American watch but calling it a fake seems harsh. It's a watch...a Swiss watch sold in the US. How about a private label? "

    I think its having Waltham's own nothing-to-do-with-watches trade name and a bogus origin city on it moves it firmly into fake territory.

    I actually prefer the ones that didn't have lies on them. They tend to be a little nicer, too.
     
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  20. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    Jeff asked for our opinions and that is what he got
     
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  21. hc3

    hc3 Registered User

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    And rightly so.
     
  22. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    I am pleased to report that the new owner very kindly identified himself to me, and has generously offered to make the watch available to the NAWCC exhibit next summer.
     
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  23. Dave Coatsworth

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    A reunion of sorts...

    AlbionCobbAndWatch.jpg
     
  24. hc3

    hc3 Registered User

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  25. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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